Spring Flower Blooms at Riveredge | April 12, 2021

One of the fantastic Riveredge volunteers, who has been exploring Riveredge trails for years to both take photographs and record observations, is letting us know what flowers she sees blooming at Riveredge. In scientific terms, this is called “Phenology.” What is phenology? It’s very similar to another word, phenomenon. Phenology means what happens, and when, in nature. Some of the most common examples are: when flowers are blooming, when buds are present, when specific migratory bird species return, when birds are nesting.

Chances are, you already notice phenology you just might not call it that. If you notice when your garden is blooming, when the trees are budding, or when butterflies return to the skies – you’re observing phenology! Read below to learn what you can find along the trails when you visit Riveredge Nature Center right now.

In Bloom

Skunk Cabbage
Hepatica
Pasque Flower
Bloodroot
Spring Beauty
False Rue Anemone
Spring Cress
Penn Sedge
Common Blue Violet
Dutchman’s Breeches
Swamp Buttercup
Cut Leaved  Toothwort
Hairy Wood Rush
Leatherwood
Marsh Marigold

Flower Buds Present

Prairie Smoke
Jacob’s Ladder

Sprouts/Leaves Present

Golden Alexander
Heart Leaved Golden Alexander
Rattlesnake Master
Wild Bergamot
Angelica
Nodding Wild Onion
White Trout Lily
Wild Geranium
Beach Wormwood
Wild Ginger
Mayapple
Shooting  Stars
Red Trillium
Common Valerian

Sticky Business: The Future Footing of Maples in Wisconsin

A lovely late afternoon in the Riveredge Sugarbush. The Sugarbush House where we cook sap down into syrup can be seen in the distance.

Botanist John Curtis, famous for having written The Vegetation of Wisconsin, referred to Maple trees as “nutrient pumpers,” enriching the soils in which they root. In the Riveredge Sugarbush, it’s common to find a maple seedling every two inches. Maples are so nutrient baring that an entire assemblage of specific animals, known as a guild, from tiny insects all the way to Black Bears, is directly dependent on maple trees.

Forests: A Continual State of Flux

We tend to think of trees as defining a forest, and they’re important, certainly charismatic, but they’re also one facet of an ecosystem. Factors such as soil type, acidity, moisture, and sunlight dictate which trees will be suitable for a given area and not the other way around.

A Pileated Woodpecker at Riveredge Nature Center.

At Riveredge, we observe and foster a diversity of trees, much of which can be traced to a cut in the 1920’s, and which allowed oaks, hickories, and other species to grow up within the Sugar Maples. Forests with greater diversity tend to be stronger against threats such as diseases or invasive species such as the Emerald Ash Borer. In nature, greater native diversity is generally regarded as beneficial to everyone.

Just as an excavated and only once used Woodpecker cavity nest will continue to be used by other animals, the root channels of an aging tree system will offer younger tree roots opportunities to colonize and expand healthily. We can think of this as a floristic inheritance from aunts and uncles.

Some of the history of our region on display inside of the Riveredge Visitor’s Center.

Hands-on Research and Conservation

For these reasons (and others), clearcutting a forest and replanting other trees can result in less than stellar results and forest health, which sustainable forestry endeavors to take into consideration. Though heralded only recently, this isn’t particularly new to the Americas. The 230,000-acre Menominee Forest in northern Wisconsin has been logged sustainably and profitably since the mid-19th century and is one of the healthiest forests on this continent.

Despite our cinematic imaginations, individual trees are not able to stand up on their roots and venture off. Forests, however, can gradually migrate their location and distribution over years and decades and centuries. This can be both the result of the given lifespan of a type of forest’s existence in an area, and can be the result of environmental factors such as climate change.

Research observes that Sugar Maple forests are gradually migrating north, following cooler temperatures as our region trends gradually warmer due to climate change. Riveredge is located at the southern distribution of Sugar Maple habitat.

In some locations at Riveredge, forest health means thinning Sugar Maple populations so that Oaks can flourish.

At Riveredge, we endeavor to undertake our land management strategy with the scope of a 100+ year vision. How can we best invite this land and the species living within it to flourish a century from now? In considering climate change, for example, oak trees are more drought tolerant than maples and we will look to plant more oaks across the landscape. Oaks also support a guild of species in a manner similar to maples.

None of us knows what the future holds, and at Riveredge we’re pleased to continue celebrating our 5th season of the year. In the future, we may look to incorporate more warmth-tolerant species as climate change develops, such as the Black Maple, also known as the Savanna Sugar Maple or Southern Sugar Maple. Our flavor may evolve with the times, but Riveredge will remain just as sweet.

Fresh Riveredge Farm Produce for Sale!

Many people know about Riveredge Nature Center as a place to visit for a hike to see wildlife or visit for a field trip, but you may not know that we also have The Riveredge Farm: an onsite 4-acre organic permaculture farm. We sell produce in our Visitor’s Center, and you can also purchase produce for future pickup from our online store. Here is a list of our fresh offerings available for purchase right now at Riveredge.

-Starry Night Acorn Squash

-Butternut Squash

-Apple Cider

-Dehydrated Shiitake Mushrooms

-Canned Tomatoes

-Garlic

-Black Currant Preserves

-Red Currant Preserves

-Gold Potatoes

-Austrian Crescent Fingerlings

Making a Habit of Adventure Throughout the Seasons

If I learned anything this spring, it’s that our lives are an accumulation of habits sprinkled with a few deviations and vacations throughout the years. The contents of these habits, and what orients our pursuits, becomes our days and years and lifetimes.

Exploring outdoors during a Pandemic

The autumn leaves are starting to turn along the Milwaukee River

When this Coronavirus came calling in March, our field trips and programs were cancelled and Riveredge (aside from trails remaining open) overall closed down. Like many of us, I performed the bulk of my work from home. For months, I was removed from my conventions of stepping outside to take a video for our Instagram account, walking the trails to photograph blooms and landscapes, running into students on field trips delighted to explore the sanctuary.

As Covid research progressed, scientists published that the overall safest place to be is outdoors in nature. I rejoiced, and gradually returned to my regular jaunts throughout the 379 acres of Riveredge, gradually reacquainting my habit of walking out the door to discover what next wild creature or flower or unexpected insect was around the next trail bend. I reclaimed my habit of instilling my days with adventure and discovery.

Making a plan to flourish during the cold winter months

Plenty of wonder and awe to experience throughout winter at Riveredge.

As we go into another potential season of relative radio silence (whether due to pandemic or our cold weather conventions), I find myself considering which habits to keep and which to shed. We Midwesterners tend to turn inwardly home and hibernate for the cold months. Throughout the snowy season, many of us leave for work in the morning and it’s dark and when we return home the sky is again dark, save for eventual star reflections twinkling against the snow.

In this autumn season that transitions from flannels and warming palms by rubbing hands together into coats and hats and gloves, habits strike me as especially important. I invite you to join me in finding ways to inject a sense of cold weather adventure into your days. The trails at Riveredge are open to you, as they have been for 50 years. Think of these autumn brass-patina prairies and flowing kettle rising moraine forests as your restorative playground to breathe in. A Riveredge membership provides both motivation and opportunity to get outdoors year-round.

Sure, it takes a little extra planning to put on the socks and boots and ear coverings. But the reward – the sounds of rustling leaves, treetop owl echoes, and creaking oaks and maples singing through your soul – will be worth it your time. Think of it as an investment. The investment of your lifetime.

By Ed Makowski, Riveredge Marketing & Communications Manager

 

 

For Educators: Simple Steps for Mapping Your Schoolyard

 

Now that school is underway, you may be trying to incorporate what you gained from participating in Taking Education Outside the School Walls. We covered a lot of ground and I hope everyone walked away with a few nuggets of worthwhile information.

Let’s circle back to how valuable it can be to scout your school grounds – all of it – gravel, pavement, grass, trees, playgrounds, and the space around the school. Intentional observations on how and where you can teach outside. Here are the simple steps to do so.

Mapping Your Outdoor Areas

Grab a few items:

  • Printed view of your school grounds
  • Notepad
  • Pencil
  • List of topics you cover in all subjects

Here is an example of an Outdoor Map I’ve created. Start walking around your school and find spots where your whole class would be able to congregate as a group. Find multiple environments: shaded or covered areas; covered by trees or buildings in case it rains, locations out in the sun, and maybe a mix of them all. What does the area look like around these spaces? Are there playgrounds, trees, exposed soil, grass, prairie, pond, asphalt, hills, and landscaped areas? You do not need huge open green areas to teach outside, work with whatever assets your school has to offer. Consider how you can bring your lessons outside and teach in the space you have before you. Need materials? Students can carry materials outside – this gives them both purpose and responsibility.

Matching Lessons with Outdoor Spaces

What lessons and topics do you cover with your students throughout the year? Are you working on addition or subtraction? Maybe you could you use sidewalk blocks, pine cones, trees, or work on that worksheet while sitting under a tree. If they are learning about insects seek a spot in the school yard where plants grow or ant hills spring forth, bring magnifying glasses out to explore these locations. Is there a great shade tree to read to your class beneath?

If learning about creating graphs, you can count birds during different times of the day. Are there spaces to take a sensory walk? Students can learn about human impact, plant identification, and soil all within your school yard. What material is your parking lot made of? In exploring this you can you teach about different surfaces, permeability, how water interacts with and absorbs (or doesn’t!) through them. You can explore the sun and moon while learning about shadows coming from any part of the building, structure, or landscaping.

Silent sit spots are a great way to make seasonal observations, and students can learn about how the natural world changes (what we call phenology) by going back to the same spot multiple times. Is there a pond nearby…if not you can observe puddles at a safe parking lot location where water pools. If learning about animals you can take students on an observation walk. Additionally, outdoor space is great for brain break movement activities. After all, there’s a reason why recess takes place outside!

You can move your teaching outside in many ways – one way is just to determine a new environment for teaching to take place and the second step is to incorporate that environment into your lessons.

If you have yet to map your school yard so you can have a quick reference to look at through the year, I highly recommend that you create one. It is easier to look at your map and remember spots then try to do it on the spot before a lesson. Enjoy whatever outdoor space you have!

Written by Rachel Feerick, the Riveredge Cedarburg School District Scientist in Residence

What’s Blooming at Riveredge? An Updated Phenology Report

One of the fantastic Riveredge volunteers, who has been exploring Riveredge trails for years to both take photographs and record observations, is letting us know what she sees blooming at Riveredge. In scientific terms, this is called “Phenology.” What is phenology? It’s very similar to another word, phenomenon. Phenology means what happens, and when, in nature. Some of the most common examples are: when flowers are blooming, when buds are present, when specific migratory bird species return, when birds are nesting.

Chances are, you already notice phenology you just might not call it that. If you notice when your garden is blooming, when the trees are budding, or when butterflies return to the skies – you’re observing phenology! Read below to learn what you can find along the trails when you visit Riveredge Nature Center right now.

Butterfly-weed blooming at Riveredge Nature Center

Butterfly-weed blooming at Riveredge Nature Center.

In Bloom

Bull Head Lily
Bladderwort
Fragrant White Water Lily
Hoary Alyssum
Yarrow
Spreading Dogbane
Heal All
Black Eyed Susan
Enchanter’s Nightshade
Wild Leek
Fringed Loosestrife
Butterfly Weed
Indian Hemp
Rough Fruited Cinquefoil
Bergamot
Queen of the Prairie
Cowbane
Marsh Hedge Nettle
Pointed Leaved Tick Trefoil
Shrubby St John’s Wort
Hoary Vervain
Blue Giant Hyssop
Lead Plant
Culver’s Root
Grey Headed Coneflower
Purple Prairie Clover
Prairie Dock
Canada Tick Trefoil
Flowering Spurge
Compass Plant
Orange Jewelweed
Wood Nettle
Pickerel Weed
White Prairie Clover
Wild Petunia
Purple Coneflower
Agrimony
Lopseed
Dotted Mint
Rosinweed
Virginia Mountain Mint
Cup Plant
Whorled Milkweed
Gayfeather
Nodding Wild Onion
Starry Campion
Spotted Joe Pye Weed
Blue Vervain
Rattlesnake Master
Carpenter’s Square Figwort
Canada Goldenrod
Small Purple Fringed Orchid
Clustered Poppy Mallow

Pink Plumes of Queen of the Prairie at Riveredge.

Flowers In Bud

Large Leaved Aster
Showy Blazing Star

What’s Blooming at Riveredge? An Updated Phenology Report

One of the fantastic Riveredge volunteers, who has been exploring Riveredge trails for years to both take photographs and record observations, is letting us know what she sees blooming at Riveredge. In scientific terms, this is called “Phenology.” What is phenology? It’s very similar to another word, phenomenon. Phenology means what happens, and when, in nature. Some of the most common examples are: when flowers are blooming, when buds are present, when specific migratory bird species return, when birds are nesting.

Chances are, you already notice phenology you just might not call it that. If you notice when your garden is blooming, when the trees are budding, or when butterflies return to the skies – you’re observing phenology! Read below to learn what you can find along the trails when you visit Riveredge Nature Center right now.

Turk’s Cap Lily in the sunshine.

In Bloom

Bladderwort
Fragrant White Water Lily
Hoary Alyssum
Yarrow
Spreading Dogbane
Pale Purple Coneflower
Harebell
Heal All
Black Eyed Susan
Wild Quinine
False Sunflower
Enchanter’s Nightshade
Wild Leek
Fringed Loosestrife
Butterfly Weed
Indian Hemp
Common Milkweed
Rough Fruited Cinquefoil
Bergamot
Turk’s Cap Lily
Queen of the Prairie
Cowbane
Marsh Hedge Nettle
Pointed Leaved Tick Trefoil
Shrubby St. John’s Wort
Hoary Vervain
Blue Giant Hyssop
Swamp Milkweed
Lead Plant
Culver’s Root
Grey Headed Coneflower
Purple Prairie Clover
Canada Tick Trefoil
Flowering Spurge
Compass Plant
Orange Jewelweed
Wood Nettle
Pickerel Weed
Tuberous Indian Plantain
White Prairie Clover
Purple Coneflower
Agrimony
Lopseed
Dotted Mint
Rosinweed
Mad Dog Skullcap
Virginia Mountain Mint
Evening Primrose
Cup Plant
Whorled Milkweed
Gayfeather
Nodding Wild Onion
Starry Campion

What’s Blooming at Riveredge? An Updated Phenology Report

One of the fantastic Riveredge volunteers, who has been exploring Riveredge trails for years to both take photographs and record observations, is letting us know what she sees blooming at Riveredge. In scientific terms, this is called “Phenology.” What is phenology? It’s very similar to another word, phenomenon. Phenology means what happens, and when, in nature. Some of the most common examples are: when flowers are blooming, when buds are present, when specific migratory bird species return, when birds are nesting.

Chances are, you already notice phenology you just might not call it that. If you notice when your garden is blooming, when the trees are budding, or when butterflies return to the skies – you’re observing phenology! Read below to learn what you can find along the trails when you visit Riveredge Nature Center right now.

Black-eyed Susan at Riveredge Nature Center

In Bloom

Lyre leaved Rock Cress
Wild Columbine
Bullhead Lily
Bladderwort
Prairie Phlox
Canada Anemone
Angelica
Tall Meadow Rue
Fragrant White Water Lily
Spiderwort
Lance Leaved Coreopsis
Hairy Beardtongue
Blue Wild Indigo
White Wild Indigo
Hoary Alyssum
Yarrow
Prairie Golden Aster
Bluets
Alumroot
Black Snakeroot
Cow Parsnip
Wild Garlic
Spreading Dogbane
Pale Purple Coneflower
Tall Beardtongue
White Beardtongue
Poke Milkweed
Harebell
Healall
Pale Spike Lobelia
Black Eyed Susan
Wild Quinine
Wild Four O’Clock
False Sunflower
Enchanter’s Nightshade
Wild Leek
Fringed Loosestrife
Marsh Phlox
Butterfly Weed
Pretty Bedstraw
Indian Hemp
Common Milkweed
Downy Wood Mint

Purple Coneflowers at Riveredge Nature Center

Flowers In Bud

Prairie Dock
Rattlesnake Master
Purple Coneflower
Sweet Joe Pye Weed

Volunteer Spotlight: Curiosity Driven by Community, Flowers, and Phenology

Pat Fairchild has been a volunteer for more than 15 years at Riveredge. Back then, she was seeking a flexible volunteering opportunity that worked with her hectic work schedule. The Tuesday Habitat Healer crew was the perfect fit. Whenever able, she’d show up to plant seedlings, snip invasive species, or help with other outdoor conservation work.

Curiosity Leads to New Knowledge and Skills

In order to learn about the flora she saw, Pat asked a lot of questions from fellow volunteers and staff members. “Everyone is so helpful and generous with their diverse knowledge,” says Pat. Being a visual learner, she started photocopying pictures of the species she saw blooming along the trails and posting the pictures on the Visitor’s Center wall for others to learn from as well. But one day a copy store employee told her that wasn’t allowed due to copyright…even if it was for educational purposes. So Pat bought a camera and began shooting and developing her own photographs to post on the wall.

While the Visitor’s Center was closed in spring due to Covid-19 concerns, Pat continued her weekly wildflower walks and we’ve been posting her phenological flower observations to the Riveredge Blog. “It’s great – I get out of the house, see the flowers and get some exercise. I’m a person who needs a purpose…I don’t just go out walking for no reason,” says Pat. “The flowers help me have a reason to get outdoors.”

Connection to Community and the Land

In addition to being a Habitat Healer, Pat has also been an interpretive naturalist and helps us raise Lake Sturgeon. Additionally, Pat also makes the time to volunteer with Interfaith, the American Cancer Society, and the Saukville Community Food Pantry.

The combination of community and love for the land is what keeps Pat coming back to Riveredge. “There are so many volunteers at Riveredge who have dedicated so much time and effort to making this place what it is – some of the people who started this place are still involved!” Pat says. “This land gets in your bones,” she smiles, “And you keep coming back.”

What’s Blooming at Riveredge? An Updated Phenology Report

One of the fantastic Riveredge volunteers, who has been exploring Riveredge trails for years to both take photographs and record observations, is letting us know what she sees blooming at Riveredge. In scientific terms, this is called “Phenology.” What is phenology? It’s very similar to another word, phenomenon. Phenology means what happens, and when, in nature. Some of the most common examples are: when flowers are blooming, when buds are present, when specific migratory bird species return, when birds are nesting.

Chances are, you already notice phenology you just might not call it that. If you notice when your garden is blooming, when the trees are budding, or when butterflies return to the skies – you’re observing phenology! Read below to learn what you can find along the trails when you visit Riveredge Nature Center right now.

Spiderwort can be seen throughout Riveredge prairies.

In Bloom

Stoneseed
Bullhead Lily
Blue Flag Iris
Bladderwort
Canada Anemone
Angelica
Tall Meadow Rue
Fragrant White Water Lily
Spiderwort
Lance Leaved Coreopsis
Hairy Beardtongue
Blue Wild Indigo
White Wild Indigo
Hoary Alyssum
Yarrow
Prairie Golden Aster
Bluets
Alumroot
Common Cinquefoil
Cow Parsnip
Large Flowered Beardtongue
Wild Garlic
Spreading Dogbane
Northern Bedstraw
Pale Purple Coneflower
Tall Beardtongue
White Avens
Poke Milkweed
Harebell
Heal All
Pale Spike Lobelia
Black Eyed Susan
Wild Quinine
Wild Four O’Clock

Pale Purple Coneflower

Flower in Bud

Wild Leek